UPDATE: Thanks to a tip from Willis Eschenbach, there’s some developing news in that story from Dr. James Hansen. The Salon interviewee and book author, Rob Reiss that I quoted, now admits he somehow conflated 40 years with 20 years, and concedes that Dr. Hansen actually said 40 years for his prediction. However, as the newest analysis shows, it doesn’t make any difference, and we still aren’t seeing the magnitude of sea level rise predicted, now 23 years into it.
See the relevant excerpt below:
Michaels also has the facts wrong about a 1988 interview of me by Bob Reiss, in which Reiss asked me to speculate on changes that might happen in New York City in 40 years assuming CO2 doubled in amount. Michaels has it as 20 years, not 40 years, with no mention of doubled CO2. Reiss verified this fact to me, but he later sent the message:
“I went back to my book and re-read the interview I had with you. I am embarrassed to say that although the book text is correct, in remembering our original conversation, during a casual phone interview with a Salon magazine reporter in 2001 I was off in years. What I asked you originally at your office window was for a prediction of what Broadway would look like in 40 years, not 20. But when I spoke to the Salon reporter 10 years later probably because I’d been watching the predictions come true, I remembered it as a 20 year question.“
Source: this update on Dr. Hansen’s personal web page at Columbia University.
In my story, below, I quoted from Reiss here in the Salon interview.
So I’m happy to make the correction for Dr. Hansen in my original article, since Mr. Reiss reports on his original error in conflating 40 years with 20 years. But let’s look at how this changes the situation with forty years versus twenty.
Per Dr. Hansen’s prediction in 1988, now in 2011, 23 years later, we’re a bit over halfway there … so the sea level rise should be about halfway up the side of Manhattan Island by now.
How’s that going? Are the predictions coming true? Let’s find out. Let’s look at the tide gauge in New York and see what it says.
Here’s the PSMSL page http://www.psmsl.org/data/obtaining/stations/12.php
You can see the terrifying surge of acceleration in the sea level due to increasing GHGs in the 20th century. Willis downloaded and plotted the data to see what the slope looked like, and then plotted a linear average line.
Here it is overlaid with the Colorado satellite data. Note the rate of rise is unchanged:
And add to that, the recent peer reviewed paper from the Journal of Coastal Research that said: “worldwide-temperature increase has not produced acceleration of global sea level over the past 100 years”
As of this update in March 2011, we’re 23 years into his prediction of the West Side Highway being underwater. From what I can measure in Google Earth, Dr. Hansen would need at least a ten foot rise in forty years to make his prediction work. See this image below from Google Earth where I placed the pointe over the West Side Highway, near the famous landmark and museum, the USS Intrepid:
The lat/lon should you wish to check yourself is: 40.764572° -73.998498°
Here’s a ground level view (via a tourist photo) so you can see the vertical distance from the roadway to the sea level on that day and tide condition. Sure looks like at least 10 feet to me.
According to the actual data, after 23 years, we’ve seen about a 2.5 inch rise. There’ s still a very long way to go to ten feet to cover the West Side Highway there.
The original story is below:
The news today from the Pew Institute tells us that many Americans are backing away from the predictions of catastrophic climate change. This may be because many predictions simply haven’t come true.
Most, if not all, WUWT readers know Dr. James Hansen of GISS. He’s credited with jump starting the debate in 1988 with his now famous “sweaty” testimony before Congress in June 1988. See more about the stagecraft of that event here.
Readers might be tempted to think that I’m going to point out the discrepancies between the three different model scenarios that Dr. Hansen presented to Congress in 1988, as shown below. But these model projections are very well known. I’m talking about something else entirely.
In Dr. Hansen’s case, he’s been living the life of a scientist in the media spotlight since, giving thousands of interviews. He’s also taken on the role of activist during that time, getting himself arrested this year for obstructing a public highway.
He likely doesn’t remember this one interview he gave to a book author approximately 20 years ago, but fortunately that author recounted the interview on Salon.com. What is most interesting about this particular Hansen interview is that he dispenses with the usual models and graphs, and makes predictions about what will happen in 20 years to New York City, right in his own neighborhood. Sea level figures prominently.
Here’s the interview.
In a 2001 interview with author Rob Reiss about his upcoming book “Stormy Weather” Salon.com contributor Suzy Hansen (no apparent relation to Jim Hansen) asks some questions about his long path of research for the book. One of the questions centered around an interview of Dr. James Hansen by Reiss around 1988-1989. Red emphasis mine.
Extreme weather means more terrifying hurricanes and tornadoes and fires than we usually see. But what can we expect such conditions to do to our daily life?
While doing research 12 or 13 years ago, I met Jim Hansen, the scientist who in 1988 predicted the greenhouse effect before Congress. I went over to the window with him and looked out on Broadway in New York City and said, “If what you’re saying about the greenhouse effect is true, is anything going to look different down there in 20 years?” He looked for a while and was quiet and didn’t say anything for a couple seconds. Then he said, “Well, there will be more traffic.” I, of course, didn’t think he heard the question right. Then he explained, “The West Side Highway [which runs along the Hudson River] will be under water. And there will be tape across the windows across the street because of high winds. And the same birds won’t be there. The trees in the median strip will change.” Then he said, “There will be more police cars.” Why? “Well, you know what happens to crime when the heat goes up.”
And so far, over the last 10 years, we’ve had 10 of the hottest years on record.
Didn’t he also say that restaurants would have signs in their windows that read, “Water by request only.”
Under the greenhouse effect, extreme weather increases. Depending on where you are in terms of the hydrological cycle, you get more of whatever you’re prone to get. New York can get droughts, the droughts can get more severe and you’ll have signs in restaurants saying “Water by request only.”
When did he say this will happen?
Within 20 or 30 years. And remember we had this conversation in 1988 or 1989.
Does he still believe these things?
Yes, he still believes everything. I talked to him a few months ago and he said he wouldn’t change anything that he said then.
I’ve saved the Salon.com web page as a PDF also, here, just in case it should be deleted. So not only did Dr. Hansen make the claims in the late 1980’s, he reaffirmed his predictions again in 2001.
The scenario of the interview with Dr. Hansen looking out his window and describing the changes he envisions 20 years into the future is very plausible. As we established yesterday, Dr. Hansen’s NASA GISS office at 2880 Broadway in NYC, has a view of the Hudson River.
Here’s a Google Earth street level view of 2880 Broadway:
Using Google Earth, I can actually fly right up to (what I think is) Dr. Hansen’s window and recreate the view. (Note to anyone who worries, this info about the location is public domain information, published on the NASA GISS office website)
First let’s establish the location in traditional downlooking map style view at put Dr. Hansen’s line of sight on the image:
Here is a close in view, from further east on 112th street, just behind the GISS building looking northwest to the Hudson river. Google’s 3D buildings feature is used to recreate the buildings:
Here’s what the view from Dr. Hansen’s window at GISS looks like:
And finally, here is the view from the Hudson, looking back to the GISS building:
In the recounting of the interview by Rob Reiss, Hansen makes several claims about trees, birds, police cars, and crime. I can’t comment on those as I have no data. What I can comment on is this prediction by Dr. Hansen:
“The West Side Highway [which runs along the Hudson River] will be under water.”
As you can clearly see in the Google Earth images, the West Side Highway remains dry and open. Sea level (at which the Hudson River at that point becomes) is not encroaching on the highway. Note the date on the Google Earth timeline toolbar in the upper left. The aerial imagery was taken approximately 20 years later, on May 12th, 2008.
So much for local climate change predictions by the leading global authority on climate change.
Even if we give Dr. Hansen the benefit of 30 years, I’ll point out that satellite measured rate of change of global sea level has slowed significantly in the last few years, and is not likely to rise enough to meet Dr. Hansen’s prediction even 30 years out. See this story.
In fact using the University of Colorado interactive sea level plotting tool, we can see virtually no trend in the last 20 years:
You can reproduce it here at sealevel.colorado.edu
I wonder what Dr. Hansen thinks when he looks out that window today?